UCL Grand Challenges


Book Launch | Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe

05 March 2024, 6:30 pm–8:30 pm

Parliament Buildings UCL Press Book Cover

Join us for the launch of Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe edited by Sophia Psarra (The Bartlett School of Architecture), Uta Staiger and Claudia Sternberg (UCL European Institute).

This event is free.

Event Information

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The Bartlett School of Architecture


6.02 Bartlett School of Architecture
22 Gordon Street
United Kingdom

As political polarisation undermines confidence in the shared values and established constitutional orders of many nations, it is imperative that we explore how parliaments are to stay relevant and accessible to the citizens whom they serve. The rise of modern democracies is thought to have found physical expression in the stages unity of the parliamentary seating plan. However, the built forms alone cannot give sufficient testimony to the exercise of power in political life.

Parliament Buildings brings together architecture, history, political thought, sociology, anthropology and political science to raise a host of challenging questions: how do parliament buildings give rise to norms and practices, to behaviours, rituals identities and imaginairies? How are their spatial forms influenced by and influence the political cultures they accommodate?

The book offers an eclectic exploration of the complex nexus between architecture and politics in Europe. Including contributions from architects who have designed or remodelled four parliament buildings in Europe, Paul Monghan AHMM, Benedetta Tagliabue EMBT, David Nelson, Foster and Partnters and Ivan Harbour RSHP, it provides the first comparative, multi-disciplinary study of parliament buildings across Europe and across history.

This talk will be followed by a drinks reception. 

This project was supported by UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding. 

Speaker Biographies:

Sophia Psarra is Professor of Architecture and Spatial Design and director of the Architectural and Urban History and Theory PhD Programme at The Bartlett School of Architecture. She is the author of Architecture and Narrative (Routledge, 2009), The Venice Variations (UCL Press, 2018) and editor of The Production Sites of Architecture (Routledge, 2019). She works on the relationships between spatial form, embodied cognition, power and spatial practice.

Uta Staiger is Associate Professor of European Studies, Director of the European Institute, and Global Strategic Academic Advisor (Europe) at UCL. Her research sits at the intersection of modern European thought, culture, and politics. She is the co-editor of Memory Culture and the Contemporary City (Palgrave, 2009), Brexit and Beyond. The Future(s) of Europe (UCL Press, 2018) and the special issue Brexit: Past–Present–Future (Global Policy, Wiley, 2021).

Claudia Sternberg is Principal Research Fellow and Head of Academic Programmes at the UCL European Institute. She is a political scientist interested in how ideas, stories or the built environment can help to create or contest political legitimacy, authority and power. She is the author of 'The Struggle for EU Legitimacy’ (2013) and the co-author of 'The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis: Mutual Recognition Lost?’ (2017). Her research has received the UACES Best Book Prize, the Pademia and Theseus Awards, and the Sage Award for Best APSA Paper in Comparative Politics.

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Image: Naomi Gibson-produced with reference to documentation by TU Vienna (2014) and Google Maps.